To make the Italian tomato sauce, place the olive oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft (approximately 5 minutes). Add the Roma tomatoes (or San Marzano canned tomatoes). Bring to the boil, then add the basil, sugar and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to your required consistency, stirring occasionally so that the sauce does not stick to the pot and burn, then remove from the heat. Add water to the Italian tomato sauce, as needed to keep the sauce lovely and moist. Discard garlic clove.
Prepare your food mill over a clean saucepan or stockpot. Ladle the cooked Italian tomato sauce into the food mill and stir to collect the lovely tomato pulp and juice in the pot. Discard the tomato skins and seeds that are left in the food mill. Place the stockpot with Italian tomato sauce once again over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to the lowest setting while the pasta is cooking.
Meanwhile place a large pot with water on high heat and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and penne pasta to the boiling water and cook until ‘al dente’ – refer to the cooking time specified in pasta packet instructions. Drain the pasta.
Remove the stockpot with Italian tomato sauce from the heat. Add the cooked penne pasta to the stockpot and toss for 1 minute to soak up lovely tomato flavour. Divide the Penne pasta ‘al pomodoro’ among serving bowls. Ladle any remaining Italian tomato sauce on each serving bowl and sprinkle torn basil leaves on top. Serve immediately – Buon appetito.
Note: Roma tomatoes need to be ripe and flavorsome for this recipe. Use quality fresh Roma tomatoes only in the summer months of the year. Alternatively, use San Marzano canned tomatoes.
400g penne pasta|3 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil|1 small onion, finely chopped|1 clove garlic, whole|1kg ripe Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped (alternatively 800g San Marzano canned tomatoes, chopped) – see note|6 large basil leaves, whole plus extra to serve|1 teaspoon sugar|Sea salt